Batla house encounter: Shahzad Ahmed found guilty by Delhi court

    By M Reyaz,,

    New Delhi: A Delhi court today found Shahzad Ahmed guilty in the Batla House encounter case on charges of obstructing public servants in discharge of duties, murder of Inspector MC Sharma and attempt to murder.

    Additional Sessions Judge Rajender Kumar Shastri has set July 29, Monday at 2.0 pm to deliver the quantum of punishment.

    Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association (JTSA), formed in the wake of the police shootout in 2008, in its initial reaction, has expressed disappointment at the conviction. Most of the members of the JTSA, including Manisha Sethi, Sanghamitra Misra, Tanveer Fazal were present in the court.

    Speaking to TCN from Azamgarh over phone, Dr. Javed Akhtar, President Association for Welfare, Medical, Educational and Legal Assistance (AWMELA), that is fighting the case on behalf of Shahzad too was “disappointed.” He said that once the sentencing is announced on July 29, they will discuss the case minutely with their lawyers, adding that they will definitely appeal the conviction in the high court. He accepted that it is a “set back in their struggle for justice” and that media reports in last few weeks that the prosecution was not very convincing in providing evidence in support of their version, had made them hopeful and they were expecting a judgement in favour.

    In what could be big relief to the Delhi Police, the court has accepted the police version of encounter. Shahzad Ahmed, Special Cell of the Delhi Police, claims was one of the occupants in the L 18 house in the Batla House, where the alleged encounter took place on September 19, 2008, six days after serial blasts in the city. According to the prosecution, he fired at Inspector Sharma and than escaped from the the House L 18 in Batla House, where the ‘encounter’ took place in 2008.

    Shahzad had denied all charges and claimed earlier that he was innocent and have been falsely implicated in this case. He had denied that he was in the flat at the time of the encounter or that he fired on police. He also told the Additional Sessions Judge that he was picked up by the ATS Lucknow from his house in Azamgarh and that his family had also lodged a complaint for kidnapping.

    RTI activist Afroz Alam Sahil, who was first one to get copies of those killed in the police shoot out, is still hopeful of ‘justice.’ He said, “This judgement is from a district court and we still have the options of high court and the Supreme Court,” adding that he firmly believes that in this country justice may be delayed, but is seldom denied.

    The prosecution, in its final arguments, contended that it had “sufficient circumstantial evidence” and phone records to prove that Ahmad was present in the flat in Batla House.

    Ahmad, along with another accused Junaid, fled after firing at police, the prosecution said.

    In 2008 on 19th September, on 4th floor of L-18, Batla House in Delhi’s Jamia Nagar area, two youths of Azamgarh were killed in a shootout, which was later claimed to be an encounter by special cell of Delhi police. In this shootout, one of the officers of Delhi police Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma also lost his life. However, from the very first day Human and Civil Rights’ organistions and activists are demanding an independent judicial enquiry into the shootout. The post-mortem report of the deceased also pointed towards the encounter being a fake one.

    SQR Ilyas, General Secretary of the Welfare Party of India, said that he is “dismayed” at the judgement, where all legal procedure has been put aside and the court accepted the police version, taking no cognizance of questions raised.

    Civil society groups have been arguing that the L-18 flat in Batla House area has only one exit which was manned by police people; there is no possibility to escape by jumping. Anyone attempting that would only break his bones. Further that the local police was not informed in time and that the FIR was filed very late.

    Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan, President of All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat said in a written statement that it is too early to comment as we do not know in detail what the judgment really says. Questioning the police version, however, he said, “The ‘input’ for Batla House came from the same infamous IB special director who provided the fake inputs that were used for 17 fake encounters in Gujarat which are being probed now,” adding, “We continue to beleive that the Batla House encounter was fake and we stand by our demand for a high level judicial enquiry into the incident.”

    Meanwhile, Slain cop MC Sharma’s kin are satisfied with Batla House verdict.